Thursday, November 10, 2011

Jumping on the Maynard James Keenan Bandwagon

Sometimes, I wonder why I am so late to catch on to things. This blog is a great example. Another example is that it took me until last night to realize just how cool James Maynard Keenan is.

Tool fans would be yelling at me right now about the genius of Maynard if they were anywhere near me. I should have realized this a long, long time ago.

I saw Maynard perform with A Perfect Circle over the summer and it was good, but I wasn't overly excited by the show. But then there is Puscifer. Last night's show was really, really good. Amazing. I felt hypnotized by Maynard's magic and realized that evening that he is a true artist. The review that I wrote for Now in Salt Lake is posted below.

If you happened to be anywhere near the Capitol Theatre Wednesday night, you may have been a little confused by the huge crowd of leather jacket-wearing, tattoo-bearing and cigarette-smoking people hanging around outside. Puscifer's show was a far cry from a ballet -- though anyone who is familiar with frontman James Maynard Keenan knows that a Puscifer ballet is not so far-fetched.

The Puscifer show started promptly at 8:30 p.m. and began with Keenan donning a cowboy hat, cowboy shirt, jeans and big glasses, setting up a camp onstage while talking to audience members. The stage was set with a picnic table (which Keenan covered with a checkered tablecloth), camping chairs, another table set up with wine glasses and two bottles of wine that band members drank throughout the show (a plug for Keenan's wine, Caduceus), an Airstream trailer and a fake rattlesnake that Keenan placed at the front of the stage.

Keenan went to the trailer and opened the door to Carina Round, a dark-haired British singer/songwriter who served as the opener for Puscifer. Round helped Keenan set up, pull out an uncovered trailer with a drum set on it and then the two took their places behind microphones.

That's when the magic began. The stage had a large screen behind Keenan and Round that went from ceiling to floor and throughout the evening had various images flash across it, ranging from desert landscapes, to oceans, to weird colorful bubbles, clouds and more.

Keenan stayed to the rear of the stage, a shadowy figure for most of the show, with only the outline of his cowboy hat visible as he danced back and forth with Rounds, who accompanied him on every song. The pair make sweet music together. Round's voice perfectly harmonized with Keenan's and had me wishing she was on all the songs on his new album, "Conditions of My Parole," which she does appear on.

This show was to promote the newest release and that was quite evident. Keenan's performance, musically and theatrically, was outstanding.

The two-hour show left fans sitting in awe.

Some standout moments: "Oceans," "The Rapture (Fear Is A Mind Killa Mix)," "Telling Ghosts" and "Toma."

At the end of the show, Keenan thanked the audience and reminded everyone that Puscifer is a DIY project, one that embodies everything he brought to the stage that night, including the wine. "It's grassroots, bitches," said Keenan. Then he took a bow, grabbed a glass of wine and left the stage.

Diehard Tool fans may have hoped for a different kind of concert, but I left feeling inspired, knowing Wednesday's show will be emblazoned on my memory for some time to come.

(photo taken by Rick Egan for Now in Salt Lake and The Salt Lake Tribune)

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